It's bad enough being handicapped with a Nepali passport while travelling abroad, but we could all do without being dogged by fear and insecurity within our own country. In the east, charred hulks of torched busses line the road, vehicles try to move in convoys, vegetables dumped by farmers angry at bandas and blockades obstruct the highways.
Nepal's fabled GDP increase is fuelled by what is left of the economic activity in Kathmandu and remittances from abroad. What happens outside the capital has less impact on the overall national numbers, which is why the Maoist movement was able to gather steam.
While the bandas grind on, everything comes to a standstill, and people protest by remaining mobile. The popular Nepali band Nepathya is on a 15-city tour across the nation. On the same day they performed in Damak, Jems Pradhan, Dipesh Bhattarai and others had their concert in Biratnagar. Fun in the time of fear.
It is also interesting to note the boom in the construction industry at urban centres. With more people moving to towns and cities from the mid-hills, land prices are soaring, rents are exorbitant, jobs scarce and there's more demand than supply. People, it seems, always find ways to profit. There are also more private boarding schools and private clinics, proving that social service delivery is moving towards private hands because the government is non-functional. While there are risks in the transportation business these days, Nepalis still have to get places so entrepreneurs are venturing into new territory, even if it means airlifting vehicles and spare parts. The private airline, Yeti, has expanded, buying bigger planes.
Kathmandu is not Nepal. Never has that been truer. Outside Thankot, it is a completely different world. There is lot to learn and to do. The most important first step is to move out of the current political impasse.
Across the border in India, there is a different insecurity. The people are not sure about India Shining, and from the recent Indian poll results, that indecision has cost the Vajpayee government dearly. The Indian elections were fought on the economic agenda by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), but they've found that if the benefits are not equitably distributed it doesn't mater to most people. Perhaps that could influence future political trends in Nepal, if we ever get to holding elections.